Greg Percy, Chief Operating Officer, Metrolinx

“We’ve already tripled our ridership since launch”: UP Express

Greg Percy, Chief Operating Officer, MetrolinxToronto has long since been criticized for not having a direct link from the airport to the downtown core…until UP Express came along and finally filled the gap. In this week’s edition of Friday Five, we chat with Greg Percy, Chief Operating Officer, Metrolinx, about the soaring popularity of UP Express, what agents should know when selling it, and the latest updates about the service.

1) Tell us a little about UP Express.

UP Express launched in June of 2015. The Greater Toronto and Hamilton area is growing quickly, and it needed a fast, reliable way of connecting the downtown core to Toronto Pearson International Airport – a way of reliably connecting the region to the world. UP is that connection. It gets travellers into the city in 25 minutes, with trains leaving every 15 minutes, 19 and a half hours a day. It’s a service that travellers can count on.

2) The company recently lowered its fares in March 2016. Has this resulted in increased ridership?

It has and we’ve been very happy to welcome new travellers aboard as the word spreads about this new service. The customers who take UP love it and it’s become the go-to choice for more and more people. We’ve already tripled our ridership since launch.

3) Do you work with travel agents?

Absolutely. Since we launched, we’ve been active in reaching out to all aspects of the travel community, from airlines to online travel services to agents. UP is able to offer group and bulk ticket discounting, and that’s something that agents can take advantage of for their clients.

We also have a longstanding partnership with VIA Rail where travel managers or customers can use VIA’s Reservia online booking tool to buy a combination VIA/UP ticket for greater convenience.

4) What selling points about UP’s service would you suggest agents focus on when dealing with clients?

UP is all about service and reliability. Not only is it the fastest way to get in and out of the city, but it also has a host of other amenities designed specifically for travellers, from free Wi-Fi on trains and in stations (courtesy of our Lead Founding Partner CIBC), convenient charging stations for devices, not to mention airline check-in kiosks where travellers can print boarding passes and luggage tags, as well as up-to-the-minute flight information. There are also level boarding and plenty of storage so bags and strollers are never a problem.

5) What’s new for the company in 2016?

Metrolinx has begun the biggest infrastructure build in our history. We have a number of projects on the go around the region, including the Eglinton Crosstown, the expansion of the GO network to 15-minute, all-day, two-way rail service and station improvements across the network. The region is growing, and Metrolinx is helping to lead the way.

When it comes to UP, we’ve got great new partners like Expedia – which now offers easy UP ticketing on its site – and Air Canada, which is now offering a stopover option for U.S. travellers flying to Europe and Asia through Toronto. Travellers can now include a stay in the city and experience everything the GTHA has to offer before continuing on to their final destination Look for UP to create even more of these sorts of partnerships in the future.

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